How to deal with shame
Whatever else you do, however hard you work on moving forward, your subconscious beliefs about shame and guilt can hold you back. Internal as well as external work is needed. That said, releasing shame can just as easily involve practical exercises as well as deep reflections.
I only realised I was working on ‘releasing shame’ when I found myself taking and sharing pictures of my messy kitchen. At the same time I discovered the blog Educated Unemployed Indian. This blogger wrote about their realisation that they needed to put their own advice into practice before blogging about it. In this way, WordPress has once again shown itself to be an interesting source of support to me.
After much supportive discussion over email (with another blogger I met on WordPress), I finally decided to share my blog with all my friends and anyone else who seems interested, with the exception of family members.
I have expressed feelings and emotions within my family, as detailed in my previous post. It might have only merited a sentence of my post but it was a significant event within my life.
I have begun to act differently. I have processed some difficult aspects of my family experience. I have been brave enough to be honest with myself, even though, especially though, that means uncovering and looking at the less likeable aspects of myself. In order to do all this, or rather as part of doing all this, I have overcome blocks. I have overcome some of the effects of shame (reticence, self-doubt, emotions being too overwhelming, emotions being shut off) and that in turn has helped me overcome and release the shame itself.
Here I will document the positive effects, noticeable even after the first day or two.
A release of creative energy: new ideas! With less shame taking up space inside me, I find I can do more.
Increased sense of humour, increased ability both to find things funny and to make things funny. Me and my husband laughing and laughing about my ‘food blog’ pictures. Him saying apropos of nothing, ‘So last night I was doing some numerology’ and us both finding this hysterical for some reason (I think it just illustrated the randomness of our lives together).
Increased motivation, less energy spent on shame or worry about whether or not to clean the car, meant time and energy to spend on sorting out CDs. Do it or don’t do it, but don’t beat yourself up. I can live with a dirty car, so I have decided not to worry about it. Other things, I feel much better for doing such as booking an eye test and asking the doctors for a travel prescription.
More confidence. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the simplest of things. Having miscalculated the maths re the cat food, I realised I would need to deliver some more before my next scheduled visit. I’m such an idiot! Why am I so stupid?! I said. Why so harsh re something so easily fixed? I was reminded of my manager in New Zealand who could cope with any amount of emergency mental health issues, suicidal clients, AWOL clients, arrested clients, but run up a big phone bill and he’d have a meltdown.
I put it off until the last day of my long weekend then forced myself out of my hermit state. I tend to put things off that involve phoning people, driving and parking if I am feeling anxious. I arranged it so I didn’t need to leave the house until 1 o’clock, thereby giving myself time for tea in bed, breakfast and blogging, time for me, before going out to buy and deliver the cat food. I noticed as I drove there, as I parked, and as I stayed and had a cup of tea: This feels easy.